Medical Student Specialties: How Can You Specialize in Diabetes?

specialize in diabetes

3 Types of Doctors That Specialize in Treating Diabetes

Are you a medical student interested in specializing in diabetes? Do you dream of helping people reverse Type 2 or take control of Type 1? Let’s examine three fields of study that specialize in helping patients manage this blood sugar disease.

What is diabetes? It’s a disease that sets in when blood sugar, also known as blood glucose, becomes too high. Patients have prescribed a hormone created by the pancreas called insulin. This medication helps their systems produce glucose through foods.

The glucose makes its way into the body’s cells, which is used for energy. Oftentimes, diabetics’ bodies don’t produce insulin at all or don’t create an efficient amount. Others take insulin and don’t respond to it as expected. So, they turn to specialists for help.

It’s up to a patient’s doctor to administer the proper physical exams and blood tests. As a future physician, you must be prepared to make a proper diagnosis for your diabetic patients. That means listening to them attentively, taking excellent patient notes, and paying close attention to the way your patients react to medications.

See also: 7 Steps to Become a Doctor After High School

1. Diabetes Specialists: Primary Care Providers

In many cases, this is where patients when they exhibit symptoms of diabetes. Family practice physicians, primary care providers, and internists help diagnose and treat diabetics. Also, when patients need referrals to diabetes specialists, these are generally the doctors that refer them.

These are some of the questions your patients may ask on their hunts for new primary care physicians to help manage their diabetes:

  • Have you gone through special training to treat diabetics?
  • Do you specialize in Type 1, Type 2, or both?
  • What tests will you perform and where?
  • Are you a member of any professional diabetes networks?
  • Do you refer to or work with registered dieticians or educators?

Many insurance plans require patients to get referrals to diabetes specialists. That means as a primary care physician, you are their first line of defense against this disease.

So, you must listen to your patients and address their concerns. That’s the most effective way to help your patients reverse Type 2 diabetes, or get better control over Type 1.

See also: What Is the USMLE Step 1? Purpose, Benefits & Resources

2. Diabetes Specialists: Registered Dietitians

A person trained in nutrition why has taken and passed a national exam is known as a registered dietitian (RD). You can become a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) or continue your schooling to obtain your master’s degree.

The purpose of an RD is to help patients determine the foods they need to eat based on:

  • Medication
  • Lifestyle
  • Desired Weight
  • Health Goals

Newly diagnosed diabetics visit RDs for educational purposes. They want to understand how they can change their eating and drinking habits to better manage the disease. Patients who have had diabetes for years also turn to these specialists for help because food needs change as they age. What may have been okay for them before may not be good for them now.

Registered Dieticians help diabetics learn how what they eat and drink affects the blood fat levels and blood sugar. The physician’s plans include:

  • Balancing activity and medications with foods
  • Teaching how to read food labels properly
  • Creating regular and sick day meal plans
  • Help plan eating at special events and out with others
  • Find quality cookbooks for diabetic health
  • Make food substitution recommendations
  • Adding foreign and ethnic foods to meal plans

3. Diabetes Specialists – Endocrinologists

An Endocrinologist is a physician specializing in treating endocrine system diseases, including diabetes. The endocrine system consists of hormone-producing glands that help the body function. Insulin is a prime hormone needed for proper bodily functioning.

Many Type 1 diabetics are referred to Endocrinologists when they first get diagnosed. Type 2 diabetics turn to these specialists when their disease is out of control, creating severe complications.

If you take a special interest in the complications and management of diabetes, you may be referred to as a diabetologist in the field of diabetology. However, this is not a certified field of medicine. But it does give you clout within your niche.

Video: USMLE Step 1 Pathophysiology of Diabetes, Part 1

Check out this video on USMLE Step 1 Pathophysiology of Diabetes from MedSmarter. The attached Video is Part 1 of 2 videos. We break down the concepts in simple terms in shorter videos so students can focus on the Educational Objective to get a deep understanding of the concept.

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